What advice would you give your younger self should you have the chance?
Would you bring back an almanac and tell them to bet their way to riches? Or maybe you’d warn them how all those keg stands will result in them—you—having a rock for a liver?
I, for one, would probably tell myself to invest in cryptocurrency, but that’s a fool’s game, isn’t it? Isn’t our personal growth much more important than just having a few extra bucks in life? After all, if money could solve all our problems, we wouldn’t have so many of the rich and famous taking their own lives.
Not that I’d know. I used to think that I wouldn’t amount to much in life, and that could still turn out to be true. But I’ve done things that my younger self had only dreamt of, so what’s to say what else I’m missing out in life?
When I started dreaming
I remember the first time I entertained a dream that was a tad grandiose.
What if I could be a writer? What if I could one day see my name in the newspapers, and in travel magazines, and in bookstores?
Then I told myself to stay in my own lane, because I was a hairdresser, after all, and I didn’t have any experience or qualifications to switch fields.
Yet for reasons unknown, I still managed to take that leap. I would first see my byline in print, then I would be the subject of those news pieces.
So why didn’t I dare to dream earlier? Why was I limiting myself from all the things I could’ve achieved, had I only applied myself earlier in life?
And that brings us to the point of this article—to dish out advice to my younger self in hopes that I could change the perspective of another teen from halfway across the world. That would be pretty aweesome, wouldn’t it?
So without further ado, I present to you, the top tips I’d give my younger, stupid self (besides buying stocks in Facebook and Google).
Procrastination doesn’t make you as happy as you think
Sure, it’s a no-brainer picking between doing something boring and delaying it till later—the latter always wins. But you need to know that you’re a master procrastinator, and all you’ll have to show for all that lazing around is just three decades of getting by.
Some people would call it ‘listening to your heart’. Others would label as ‘a way of taking it easy on yourself’. You know that’s all bullshit, because no matter how hard the tasks are, at the end of the day, you’ll feel much better having chased a purpose rather than hiding behind the thin veil of ‘downtime’.
When you’re older, you’ll see the value of waking up every morning and going for a run before your day starts. You’ll eat healthy even though all you want to do is pig out on fast food. You’ll maintain a weekly blogging schedule and you won’t miss one day of writing.
It’s not like you even look forward to doing those tasks. In fact, ninety percent of the time, you wished you didn’t have to do them.
But you know what? You’ll feel worse if you don’t drag your ass out of bed and handle business. So stop picking the easy way out. Do the dishes, or the laundry, or finish your damn novel.
Procrastination won’t make you happy, no matter how much your brain tells you it would.
Impossible is you
You’ll dream about many things—about how you could one day get a career that doesn’t pay USD 400 per month after six years of being in the industry.
You’ll dream of writing a novel, of one day having a Goodreads author page instead of a user profile. Heck, you’ll even dream of seeing your abs for the first time in your life.
None of those dreams will seem possible, so you’ll stow them away somewhere in the back of your mind, until you grow older and realise that you have nothing to lose by taking that first step.
But once you achieve those dreams, you’ll learn that ‘impossible’ is only a term that you set for yourself. No one else will put down your dreams as much as you would, and that’s a very important distinction that you should learn early.
Because your goals aren’t impossible. You just refuse to believe. And even if they were impossible, it’s better to have tried than to be on your deathbed wondering what if.
You’re stronger than you think
Remember that time you tried running for the first time and gassed about 400 metres in? Remember keeping at it anyway, and getting nowhere for about a year?
There’ll come a time when you’ll run five kilometres every time you put your shoes on, and oh, you’ll also pick up martial arts and even compete in tournaments, so don’t for a second think that all these physical pursuits are reserved only for the physically gifted.
When it comes to writing, you’ll also cap your abilities at one article per week. You’ll quickly find out that you can write two 1,000-word articles a day. While on the move. For about twelve to sixteen hours per day.
Life will throw you a curveball or two, and you’ll probably doubt yourself once said challenges roll around, but you’ll always come out of the other side stronger than you were before.
But that’s the thing. You’ve always been strong. You just don’t know it yet.
Stop waiting for things to happen
That’s your default course of action, isn’t it? To dream and hope that things just magically happen for you. Well that’s not going to be the case, and it’s important that you figure this out, because all this waiting only serves to turn you into a passive-aggressive asshole.
You always assume that people should know how to behave. That your friends and family should know what you want. That the universe owes you something.
How about you take charge for a change? Take responsibility for something for once. In fact, take responsibility for everything. Only then will you realise how people actually get things done, and that’s by taking action, not waiting.
You want less, not more
You’ll go through a phase where you’ll wish you possessed every worldly item in existence. Clothes? You’ll only want the latest. Watches? Sure. You’ll even go through a work boots phase, and those suckers ain’t cheap.
But in the end, you’re happiest when you have a small number of items you use regularly. And I hate to tell you this (since you’re probably in a hipster phase right now), but your future Insta feed will only consist of you wearing black tees, and you won’t even care anymore.
It’s a necessity to go through these phases though. It’s how you’ll learn that no matter how many things you acquire, you won’t necessarily end up happier than you were before.
You’ll be surprised just how very little you actually need in life. But until then, enjoy your retail therapy.
There are some things that I wish I’d started doing sooner in life, like picking up martial arts, writing, and quitting smoking (or not picking it up at all), but what’s past is past, and there’s nothing much I can do other than to look back in wistful longing.
But if I really had a chance to go back in time and tell myself anything, it’d be to embrace the mistakes I’ll make through life, because I’ll make a ton of them.
Everything’s going to be all right, though. Older me understands that the only reason I am who I am today is because of all the mistakes I’ve made.
And you know what? I forgive my younger self for wasting all my time, for destroying my body, and for leaving me damn near unmarketable as an adult. It’s all fine. We did manage to break through in the end, didn’t we?
Maybe that’s the reassurance that my younger self needed to not feel so lost all the time. Maybe it was the nudge he could’ve used during those phases of hopelessness.
Whatever it is, after all’s said and done, I’ll probably also tell him to forget about Yahoo! and invest in Google instead.